movies that address grief, loss, & bereavement

While I was working on my masters in psychology, my colleagues and I used movies as as case studies for the purpose of observing relational dynamics and improving our ability to diagnose. This was so helpful to our own professional growth, but it was so much more rewarding as I listened to my peer's comment. Each person had a perspective to share, giving more clinical "eyes" to each scenerio. Although I'm no longer in the psych field, I find that viewing movies - specifically movies that address the subject of grief, death, or loss - give me a context to think about such themes. Some portray these subjects lightly; others approach them in a more serious context. You have to filter through the Hollywood spin on some. But in many cases, movies help us address painful issues that sometimes we choose to run from. Without using movies to escape the realities of life, I'm open to God using a variety of things to help in my own healing. Movies have been part of that process.

The acts of this life are the destiny of the next. - Persian Proverb

The movies below focus on themes of loss, terminal illnesses, parenting, sibling relationships, hope, love, restoration, guilt, forgiveness, dreams, life, loss of a parent, moving on after losing a loved one, and mortality. These are just a few of the issues related to losing someone you care for. I pray these movies can be a source of healing to you and a way of connecting with those who share some of the same issues you're currently facing. Please know that some of these movies may be inappropriate for younger children.

    Life As A House

  1. When a father is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he takes custody of his misanthropic teenage son, for whom quality time means getting high, engaging in small-time prostitution, and avoiding his father.
  2. Message in a Bottle

  3. A woman finds a romantic letter in a bottle washed ashore and tracks down the author, a widowed shipbuilder whose wife died tragically early. As a deep and mutual attraction blossoms, the man struggles to make peace with his past so that he can move on and find happiness. (new!)
  4. The Lion King

  5. Disney animated film that highlights the strong relationship between Mufasa, the lion king, and his son, Simba. Thinking that he caused the death of his father, Simba spends the rest of the movie coming to terms with his guilt over his father's death.
  6. A River Runs Through It

  7. Although the movie primarily focuses on the relationship between two brothers, it also points out how their father, a strict Presbyterian minister, impacts their son's decisions.
  8. Field of Dreams

  9. The main character feels led to develop a baseball field in his backyard. However, he believes his reason is to bring back the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson when, actually, it's to bring back the ghost of his father. This is one of my favorite movies.
  10. Hoosiers

  11. Although the movie is about the great Indiana State basketball team, there is a subplot that focuses on the relationship between one of the basketball players and his alcoholic father.
  12. Kramer vs. Kramer

  13. About a wife who leaves her workaholic husband and son. Not knowing how to care for his son nor does he really know him, he learns to improve in his parenting skills and through the difficult process, they grow close to one another.
  14. Life is Beautiful

  15. During WWII a family is taken to a concentration camp. As a way of protecting his son both emotionally and physically, the father pretends that their imprisonment is a game.
  16. Sounder

  17. Uplifting story of a family of black sharecroppers in Louisiana in the 1930's. The focus is on the relationship between the father and his son during this time.
  18. Memories of Me

  19. About a high profile surgeon who is estranged from his father. After having a heart attack, the surgeon tries to reconnect with his father. Slowly, the two of them learn to understand each other.
  20. Shadowlands

  21. Story about C.S. Lewis and the loss of his wife, Joy
  22. A Vow to Cherish

  23. A Vow To Cherish is a film every married couple should see. It shows the true spirit of what being committed to one another and to God is all about.
  24. One True Thing

  25. About a mother who has terminal cancer and a daughter's love to nurse her mother through the last days.
  26. Ponette

  27. French film - about a four year-old girl whose mother dies in a car crash and how she deals with it.